KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — A Howard County doctor who pleaded guilty Wednesday to drug charges in connection with the deaths of at least 27 patients will serve two years behind bars if a judge accepts the terms of his plea agreement.
Dr. Don Wagoner agreed to the deal before a judge late Wednesday. He had been scheduled to go before a jury next month.
The 78-year-old, who agreed to give up his medical license last year, was accused of overprescribing powerful painkillers that led to patient overdoses.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Wagoner agreed to serve a 30 year prison sentence, but only 10 of those years would be “executed”– or required to be served. The remaining 20 years of the sentence would be served through probation — four years supervised, and 16 years unsupervised.
However, because of Wagoner’s clean record, prosecutors agreed to require Wagoner to serve just two of those 10 years in prison. The remaining 8 years would be served on home detention.
I-Team 8’s calls to Howard County Prosecutors and to Wagoner’s attorneys Stephanie Doran and Jim Voyles for comment on the plea deal were not returned.
Police say Wagoner’s clinics in Burlington and Kokomo were operating as “pill mills,” overprescribing dangerous painkillers that led to numerous overdoses.
I-Team 8 investigations in 2013 found as many as 27 patient deaths may be linked to alleged overprescribing at the clinic. A DEA investigation in 2012 resulted in 95 felony counts against Wagoner and eight other employees, including his wife Marilyn.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the Wagoner’s clinic was known as “the place to go if you wanted prescription drugs.” Former patients and former employees both told I-Team 8 that the Wagoner clinics were “cash and carry,” where patients paid their bills in full of up to $400 a week before being handed a prescription to get narcotics like hydrocodone, Xanax and Oxycontin.
Some patients were prescribed up to 500 methadone or hydrocodone pills per month, according to the probable cause.
Wagoner originally faced 20 felony counts related to dealing narcotics or conspiracy to deal narcotics.
The eight additional employees charged in connection with the case are still awaiting trial.
A judge is scheduled to sentence Wagoner under the plea agreement in July.